Closing the Loop

What does that mean for recycling? Closed loop recycling is basically a production process in which post-consumer waste is collected, recycled and used to make new products. This process can be as simple as using recycled aluminum to make new cans, or as complicated as weaving reclaimed plastic bottles into polyester for clothing and other products which may be referred to as “open loop” recycling (taking something and making a new product).

Either way, why is it important to close the loop when it comes to recycling? There has to be demand for the content.  If we purchase products with recycled content it will help create the demand for post-consumer recyclable materials and to encourage material recovery. The EPA’s Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Program started in 1993 after the signing of Executive Order 12873 and was reaffirmed by Executive Order 13693. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires EPA to “identify opportunities to use Federal procurement to encourage source reduction,” and Federal Acquisition Regulations Part 23.703 states that Agencies must “Maximize the utilization of environmentally preferable products and services (based on EPA-issued guidance).” The Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, which came out of this in 1994 and requires the Federal Government to purchase products in specific categories with certain percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a 3rd party green building standard that many of you are probably familiar with, has certainly raised the awareness of this and the commercial cleaning industry is no exception. Within the Green Housekeeping credit there are requirements for both paper and trash liners.  A specific amount (and that is defined and differs by category) of post-consumer recycled content must be used in order to be considered as a percent of the green housekeeping purchases.

One of Nichols suppliers, Petoskey Plastics, recently shared this dashboard summary with us to demonstrate what a closed looped recycling partnership can look like and what it means to the environment. This summary shows what was saved in 2015 and from January through June in 2016 by us selling (or using internally) the Petoskey Plastic Greencore trash liners which contains 70% post-consumer plastic recycled content. An additional bonus is that the Greencore liners are made in Michigan.    Nichols Sustainability Scorecard 15-16YTD (2)

Help us contribute to a better world by building the demand for post-consumer recycled content, purchasing products that are made from post-consumer recycled content. Ask us about Petoskey Plastic Greencore liners.

Take a look at this article recently published showing a map of the landfill issue across America.  After a Waste Characterization study was conducted in West Michigan last year we know that we have only 5-7 years of space left in our Muskegon County Landfill.  We are working hard at Nichols and last calculated in 2015 we were diverting 87% of our waste generated to recycling and composting.

Here is a link to the EPA Procurement Guidelines: